holiday

The Ultimate Guide to Staying Motivated into the New Year

Even though we're already a couple weeks into 2016, there's no reason why you can't choose a resolution now. The holiday season has its share of wonderful moments; it's always great to see family and celebrate, while taking some time off work. However, there's no doubting that the season is also full of hectic situations. From planning events to buying gifts, it's easy to feel exhausted going into the holidays; there’s just so much that has to be done.

Staying motivated throughout the New Year instead can be extremely beneficial to your focus, efficiency and overall health. The six tips below will help you use the chaos of the holiday season as a surprising way to stay focused and motivated into the New Year:

 

Maintain Your Exercise Routine

It’s easier to stay motivated if you strive to maintain your exercise routine to a reasonable degree into the New Year. Doing so will shake off the holiday grogginess that many people feel come after New Year’s, mostly due to sitting around and eating/drinking. Those things are fine; it’s the holidays after all. Just be sure to start back up with your usual exercise ASAP to burn it off and stay motivated.

 

Give Time, Money, or Gifts to Others

Charity is mutually beneficial; it helps others while boosting your own sense of self-worth (and rightfully so). A lack of motivation can be due to fear of failure or lack of faith in one’s abilities, both areas that can be aided by the work and resulting feeling of helping out in a soup kitchen, donating your bonus to charity, or going gift shopping for others. Being charitable not only during the holiday season, but all year long is the right thing to do and helps you stay motivated as well.

 

Set Realistic Goals

There's a lot of stress injected into our lives during the holiday season, largely because we're deliberating about changes to our lives in the near future. With this in mind, it's always important to set realistic goals, as opposed to over-encumbering yourself with unrealistic expectations. Making short term goals as opposed to long term goals can help provide a likelier positive mental payoff that rewards your psyche and maintains focus.

 

Visualize Tasks

Getting back into a routine after the holidays can be tough. It's a useful habit to use visuals to aid in organizational skills. This can be done as simply as placing yellow post-its on your fridge, or using a small section of your home for work with a small board displaying tasks that need to be accomplished.

There are also a wide assortment of mobile apps that aid in task management. Many of them feature notification options that will notify you via a text message or pop-up when a certain task needs to be done, or simply a friendly reminder. This is particularly useful for those who are wary of losing track of time and responsibilities during the holidays, which is certainly the most vulnerable time of the year for such to occur.

 

Do the Mundane Tasks Right Away

Specifically by attending to any pending mundane tasks, like paying off your credit card, addressing any bills, making any repairs you’ve been putting off, etc. This will make the transition from holiday break to work a lot easier when the time comes, keeping you motivated, focused and confident as opposed to unprepared and overwhelmed.

 

Show Interest in the Careers of Others

Not only is showing interest in this admirable conversationally, but it can also keep you motivated; hearing of others’ business successes will motivate you to do the same, while more bleak tales of business can serve as a lesson of things to avoid.

 

These six tips should keep you alert and motivated throughout the holiday season, enough to make the transition seamless when it passes, resulting in a very ideal way to start the New Year.


Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.48.46 AMKacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for "The Drifter Collective."  Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her.  Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Twitter. Pinterest.

The Drifter Collective: An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us.

 

The 2015 Yoga Gift Guide

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 9.12.25 AM It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone goes crazy for Black Friday deals and you get stressed trying to find the perfect gifts for your yogi friends. Well, it’s also that time of year when Yoga Travel Tree releases the annual Gift Guide, jam-packed with awesome deals on yoga gear for the zen-friend who has it all. The best part is that our deals are good through January 1st, so no need to ruin all your good vibes on a single shopping day. Enjoy your family and friends this Thanksgiving weekend and shop from your couch, without a crowd.

Why do we do this? We want you to enjoy your holidays and have a little less stress during this sometimes maddening time of year. We’ve worked to get you some sweet deals from 16 sweet companies with similar missions and ideals to those of Yoga Travel Tree. Featured products are sustainably made, many companies donate to charities when you make a purchase, and everything is high quality and built to last, so your hard-earned money is well spent.

We hope you enjoy this year’s Gift Guide,

Namaste,

The Yoga Travel Tree Team

 

Finding ZEN

Finding Zen

1 & 2 Grizzy Love has been a staple in the Instagram Yoga Scene for years now, and it’s easy to see why. Her styles are unique, flattering to every body-type (including guys!!) and are a sure-fire hit with the yogi on your mind. Pictured above are the OM Dotwork Mandala Hot Short, and the Chakras Unisex Tank. With their meditative designs, they’re sure to help focus your thoughts and calm your mind. Use the code BLESSED for 15% off your entire order.

3 & 4 Yvwi Yoga offers high-quality, hand-made upon order yoga and meditation props and apparel. They’ve partnered with several organizations that help those in need, and a percentage of their profits is donated. The Eye Pillow above is filled with both organic flax seed and organic lavender, perfect for meditation in savasana.  The Bolster is the perfect height and support for seated meditation or breathwork, helping to keep the spine long and the lungs open. Use the code Holiday20 and recieve 20% your entire purchase.

5. Hot Chakras Yoga is an apparel and accessories company born and raised in San Francisco. All items are made by hand, and the high quality of the products is a statement to the time and love that go into the creation of each piece. The Mala beads above have 108 faceted agate beads, which slowly bring out inner strength, self-acceptance and self-confidence, perfect for morning meditation sessions. Use the code YOGATT for $10 off Mala Beads, shorts, leggings, capris and bras.

 

STARTER Kit

Starter Kit1. Fractal 9 is another instagram yoga staple. They sponsor challenges left and right, making them one of the most widely worn yoga pants in the insta-scene, and for good reason! Their bright colors and unique patterns make them the perfect addition to any yoga-wardrobe, and the fabric is lightweight and moisture wicking for the hottest of hot yogas. This year, this wonder-brand released a plus-size collection that focuses on the idea that yoga is for every body, and any practitioner should feel comfortable, confident and classy while in any pose. Receive 15% off your order by using the code GIFT15 at checkout.

2. Infinity Strap has been making waves in the yoga community lately with their unique and extremely useful yoga straps. Unlike traditional straps, there’s no extra material to get tangled up with while you’re in an already challenging posture. Our personal favorite is the Infinity Strap Stretch, which is made of heavy-duty elastic with just enough stretch to still feel stable, but let you access poses where a little extra wiggle room might be needed, perfect for newbies! Use the code TREE20 and receive 20% off your next order.  

3. Every yogi needs a yoga mat, and the Hugger Mugger Earth Elements Eco Yoga Mat is perfect for any yogi! It’s sticky texture, and lightweight design make it great for all yogis, from just beginning to advanced. Plus, it’s two-toned reversibility gives it just a pinch of sass, but doesn’t draw a ton of attention to your mat, or your poses. Hugger Mugger donates a percentage of your purchase to various charities, currently, they’re supporting The Family Place, a charity helping to build strong families with healthy children.

4. Mat bags are super useful for getting your gear to and from your yoga class and essential for keeping organized on the move. Good Marvin is a small team of yoga loving sewing masters who create beautiful and unique bags for yoga mats out of Pennsylvania. With many different styles, colors and patterns, every yogi is guaranteed to find the perfect mat bag. The bag pictured above is one of a kind, so don’t wait!  Use the code YOGATT20 for 20% off your order.

5. Devi Deva Yoga Blocks are made with love in Canada by a couple Canadian yogis and from local wood. Each piece is hand-printed, and ecologically created to give you an awesome yoga experience. Blocks are screened with a variety of designs, the block pictured above features Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Practitioners new to yoga will love the feel of stability gained from a wooden block, as well as the ability to access more challenging postures. Use code loveyogalove for 10% off and a surprise gift with every order.

 

WORLD Travel

World Travel

1. Buddha Pants are the only yoga pants that pack into their pockets, making them perfect for backpacking, road trips and adventuring in general! Made from 100% organic cotton, these pants are soft, stay cool in heat, easy to care for, unisex, and come in tons of fun colors and patterns. The two styles pictured are the Savannah Winter, and Savana Flair. Use the code YogaTravelTree at checkout and recieve $20 off your order!

2. The Yoga Travel Tree Gift Card is the perfect gift for the travel-loving yogi in your life. With yoga retreats and teacher trainings all over the globe, a Yoga Travel Tree gift card is a great way to help your loved one see the world. Upcoming retreats include Thailand, India, Bali, Italy, Kilimanjaro and Peru! Gift cards are available in any amount, so give the gift of adventure this holiday season, and help someone have the experience of a lifetime!

3. An Audible Yoga Membership includes hundreds of yoga classes at your fingertips, anytime, anywhere. Audible Yoga is an online database of audio yoga classes, from different instructors, in styles from restorative to power. Classes can be done anywhere there’s room to unroll a mat, making this membership a great gift for travelers who love their yoga. Use the code YTT2016 for a discount on their one-year of unlimited yoga plan.

4. The YOGO Yoga Mat might be the best thing that happened to traveling yogis since Yoga Travel Tree… But really. The YOGO mat is super lightweight and foldable to about the size of a newspaper, so it takes up only a fraction of the space a traditional mat does. They’re also made with eco-friendly materials so your mat doesn’t ruin the planet that you love exploring. Bonus: for every Restoration series mat sold, YOGO plants one tree in Central America through their sustainability partner, Sustainable Harvest International. Use the code TRAVELTREE and get 15% off your order!

 

MAT to STREET

Mat to Street

1. Yoga isn't just for chicks anymore… Well, it never really was, but no one told the media that. Yoga for Men is a small but mighty company based out of St. Petersburg Florida that aims to help guys feel more comfortable on the mat. Everyone should be able to reap the benefits of yoga, men included. The Bhujang Style Cobra Yoga Pants (pictured above) have a relaxed fit and jean-like appearance, so you can seamlessly transition from the mat to a coffee shop or out on the town.

2. GrizzyLove makes men's clothing too, and it's just as stylin as the lady versions! Her materials are super soft, and with trendy styles like crop-tops and high-waisted shorts you can flow from the mat to the club with ease. Use code BLESSED at checkout and recieve 15% off your order.

3. Anything LVR is an amazing addition to your yoga-wardrobe. They use Eco-friendly organic materials and their process is just as earth friendly. The soft fabric of the Dip Dyed Organic Scarf will keep you warm from Savasana to wherever your feet might take you, and you’ll look oh so chic carrying your mat around town. Use the code YOGATRAVELTREE25 for 25% off your order.

4 & 5 If you're a regular follower of the Yoga Travel Tree Blog, you’ll know that we freaking love Onzie. They basically rock our socks right off. Their styles never cease to impress, and their latest line, the Electric Light Collection, features sweet new patterns that will look just as cute on your mat as they would with a pair of pumps. Above, the Triangle Bra and Motopant in Black Mesh are all the rage. Use the code TRAVELTREE20 for 20% off your order.

 

The Yoga BADASS

Yoga Badass

1. Sankalpa Yoga Mats are one part yoga mat, one part work of art, and two parts freaking awesome. These Eco-friendly mats are sure to inspire your downward facing dog, and help you find your inner calm. This isn't your run of the mill yoga mat company either. Each mat is designed by an individual artist to represent an individual yogi, making each design an actual piece of art. Best of all, every purchase of a mat supports the yoga community directly by benefiting both the yogi the mat represents, and the artist who created the design. How cool is that?! Use the code TravelTree25 for 25% off all products on the website.

2. LVR’s Fold Over Yoga Capris are definitely the next step in yoga pants. Far from the see-through synthetic counterparts, these organic gems out-perform and out-style the completion with far less of an impact on planet earth. They’re super soft, and sure to stay in place through the toughest of flows. Use the code YOGATRAVELTREE25 for 25% off your order.

3. Keeping the ladies in place while inverted is a challenge. Seriously, it can be harder than titibasana. Thankfully, Hot Chakras Yoga Tops are both cute, functional and flattering. Use the code YOGATT for 10$ off all bras, leggings, capris, shorts and mala beads.

4. Yoga for Men has done it again with their Bhujang Style Slim Yoga Pants. A far cry from the ‘meggings’ of late, these pants are high-functioning, without being constraining. They’re both flattering and comfortable. In these, you’ll be ready for a day on your mat, and a night on the town.

5. Good Marvin’s large style yoga bag is perfect for the seasoned yogi: it's big enough to fit all your props, and stylish enough to carry around town. With a ton of styles and patterns, every yogi can find the perfect mat bag from Good Mavin. Use the code YOGATT20 for 20% off your order.

 

Want more ideas? Check out the 2014 and 2013 versions of the Gift Guide!

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5 Under the Radar Gems of Eastern Europe

Much of Eastern Europe remains a lesser-known secret – with barely any tourist scene and little discussion of its merits. Despite this, it is a place of exquisite natural beauty and fascinating history, so why not devote some time to uncovering its mysteries? Here are our top five under the radar gems of Eastern Europe. [bctt tweet="Much of Eastern Europe remains a lesser-known secret."]

Skopje, Macedonia

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Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, despite how tiny it is! It's an eclectic combination of modern quirky buildings and Ottoman-era architecture. Take some time to visit the Čaršija – an old Turkish bazaar, and the Tvrdina Kale Fortress which dates back to the fifth century, to get a feel for the history of the place. Then spend some time on the modern side of town, taking in things like the Warrior on a Horse statue in Ploštad Makedonija. This is a cities of opposites – of Vegas like extravagance, but tempered by a rich and ancient history.

Thanks to its status as up-and-coming, it remains one of the cheaper cities in Europe, so take advantage of this and try the local food. It can be tricky to access by train, but there are plenty of buses available. Plus, when you're done with city life, head out to the nearby nature reserve – Jasen – for a chance to encounter European Lynx, the Balkan Chamois and Golden Eagles. It's a great way to see the less built upon side of Macedonia, and perhaps even spend some time adventuring via kayak, paraglider and even spelunking too.

 

Sibiu, Romania

(Pictured Above)

Set in Transylvania, Sibiu was deemed the European Capital of Culture in 2007. Despite this, it remains on the quiet side, never quite reaching the heights of Prague or Budapest. The city itself dates back to at least the 12th century, being one of seven walled citadels built by the Transylvanian Saxons. This lengthy history means it’s a city packed with culture and stories – with medieval walls, 17th century buildings and quaint cobblestone streets. Of particular interest are the three 15th century towers, still standing tall amidst the buildings. Then there's Brukenthal Palace, built in the 1700s in baroque style and now home to an art museum. If religious history appeals to you, Sibiu has a lot to offer. From Orthodox churches to Jewish synagogues, there's a rich and varied history to explore here.

Heading out of the city and you can explore Marginimea Sibiului, eighteen villages that carefully preserve the traditional life of Romania. It's also within day trip distance of the magnificent Horezu Monastery, a UNESCO world heritage site renowned for its intricacy and impressive collections. So whether it's staying in the city, or exploring the area, Sibiu has something for everyone.

 

Mljet, Croatia

Image via Yacht Rent

Mljet is a small island in the Adriatic, and is home to the Mljet National Park. Said to be the island which transfixed Odysseus for seven years, it's easy to see why. The park itself is accessible via foot or bike, and is home to a small Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 12th century. Abandoned in 1869, it was subsequently turned into a hotel and is now a restaurant. There's also the town of Polače, which the remains of a 5th century church, a Roman palace and an early Christian basilica. Still, it's mostly nature which is the draw here, with the National Park being a beautiful, shaded forest with two lakes. You can experience these by circling the edges, or potentially even swimming in them! Home to fallow deer, wild boar and eagle owls, its an enticing place with rugged coastlines and olive groves.

Mjlet is also very close to the well known Dubrovnik, meaning it's great as part of a larger holiday too.

Image via www.Yacht-Rent.com

 

Olomouc, Czech Republic

Image via Mike Gabelmann

Less known than Prague, Olomouc boasts an equally thrilling history, with beautiful squares in its own right. Home to the country's second oldest university, it remains a thriving student town, meaning it has a good night-life and is a hive of activity – but often, not tourist activity.

With a huge Gothic cathedral, the Holy Trinity Column and the fantastic Archdiocesan Museum, Olomouc is bursting with culture and history. Unlike some cities however, this isn't all it has to it. Thanks to the young population and the university, there's fast train travel to it and great brew pubs. With local jazz clubs, hidden restaurants and home-made speciality beers, you'll delight in the modernity of such an old city.

 

Berat, Albania

Image via Jordan Pickett

Finally, there's Berat. Albania itself is one of the more overlooked Easten European countires, and Berat is a jewel in this gorgeous country's crown. It's on the UNESCO world heritage sites list, and is home to hordes of white Ottoman houses, giving it the nickname of the 'town of a thousand windows'. With minarets, the dome of the university and tiled roofs galore, it's a quaint mix of a variety of styles, from a modern university to the bridges built in the 1700s.

One of the must watch of the town is the Kala, a castle dating back to the 13th century – with some aspects that even go back to the 4th. It's a steep climb, but not only do you get beautiful views, but access to the Onufri Iconography Museum, featuring artefacts from many churches in the region. As well as this, there are many byzantine churches, Ottoman-era mosques and a beautiful waterfall for those craving nature.

 

So instead of heading on a place alongside everyone else this summer, why not scope out these hidden gems, and explore the side of Eastern Europe you never knew about before?

 

By Edward Francis and BalticTravelCompany.com!

8 Easy Ways to Make the Most of Your Travels

Traveling is easier than it has ever been before. Within few hours you can be in another country, within half a day in another continent. While physical travel is fast and easy, sometimes it takes time for our minds to travel from one place to the next. Half a day does not always provide enough time to get completely adjusted into something very different. So take charge of your travels, avoid common mistakes, and keep these tips in mind when traveling and sightseeing!

1. Match your travel mood with your travel destination

Simple, but important nonetheless. How are you looking to spend your trip? Shopping and laying by the pool in a fancy hotel, or trekking off the beaten track? Before you go, check your destination to see what there is to do. You don't want to find yourself on an island asking for a taxi to take you to a party, only to realize that the entire island pretty much goes to sleep at 9pm.

2. Research your way into success

Travel books can get outdated quite fast, and tend to have only a limited selection of all that is available. So go online and do a bit of research. Read latest articles and check out the newest hot spots. Throw a few insightful questions into social media, someone is bound to know someone else who has been roaming around in your travel destination. You will get insider tips you won't find in travel guides!

3. Choose companionship wisely

Are you looking to travel by yourself, or with someone? If you are planning a trip with someone, it's worth to discuss the behind-the-scenes practicalities of life before jetting off. How much time are you looking to spend alone? What is your idea of a fun day? How active you want to get? How much of your personal space you want to share? Basically, how are you before your morning coffee? Make sure you pick someone who is on the same frequency as you.

Sometimes opposites attract also. If you are more shy or introvert, it can be beneficial to pick a travel buddy who is more outgoing. You'll get to places and meet people you perhaps would not on your own. Just make sure you know what you are expecting from each other.

4. Check the weather before you go

Tropical islands are not always full of sunshine, and big cities are not always accessible. Before choosing a travel destination, it's good to do some research about the weather as well. Most tropical locations have rainy seasons or wet seasons, and while there are no guarantees, this may mean that your sunny week can turn into rain and mud if you pick the wrong season. As the seasons can vary within one country, be specific in your research.

You don't want to stand in Hong Kong celebrating the new year in your beach wear, freezing, because you assumed Hong Kong was always warm. Or sitting in your lovely Beach Cottage watching the rain for the fifth day in a row.

5. Leave room for the unexpected

Don't plan everything before hand, as this will just complicate your holiday experience. There will always be some surprises along the way, and you want to be able to move around them. You may want to stay longer in some places, or leave others sooner than you originally planned. If you have every single night booked in advance, it only takes one setback, one cancelled flight, and you are in more stress than you want to be during your holiday. So take it easy! If you don't want to leave without having booked anything in advance, just reserve the first few nights, until you can go around exploring yourself.

6. Respect goes a long way

Respecting the local culture may come as a given, but since cultures differ so tremendously, we may not always even know we are crossing some local lines. Although many of the bigger, more touristic places have adapted to a more "western" approach, most places maintain their own, original culture, which can be completely different from what we are used to.

To start with, it' worth it to familiarize yourself with local ways of greetings. Raising a hand for a hello may be a vulgar signal, and trying to shake someone's hand may bring both of you in an awkward situation if it's not part of the local tradition.

When discussing with locals, in some cultures it's very hard for people to admit they don't know something. You might hear yes, yes, without that necessarily meaning that the person even understood you.

When you finally land on those famous landmarks and take out your camera, just pause again before you start shooting like a paparazzi. Especially if you want to photograph locals, you might ask if this is allowed. In some cultures people think that having their picture taken means that the photographer steals their soul. So proceed with caution when looking through your lens.

7. Do as locals do

In any country the best sights are usually not those where the tourist buses go. The best places are those that are not yet mentioned in travel guides, they are places where the locals go to hang out, or remote spots where you will find no one else.

Also the best prices can be found where the life gets more local. Especially in Asia there is often a lot of room to haggle over prices of transportation or other services offered. Assume if someone comes and offers a service to you, the price will be adjusted to tourists.

Doing as locals also means that you adjust yourself to the local dress code. Most foreign countries are slightly more conservative when it comes to dressing, so you might want to keep an eye out for how the locals dress themselves. If you are not sure, cover up more, or ask someone if it is allowed to show shoulders and knees. If you want to sunbathe topless, check first, no matter how remote the beach.

8. Relax and enjoy

Last, but not least, when you leave your home country, leave your expectations behind as well. Try to have an open mind, as the more we expect things to go a certain way, the less flexible we tend to be. Life hardly ever goes as we plan or expect, so go with the flow and enjoy what unfolds.

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All Levels Yoga Sequence for a Post-Christmas Detox

  Does your belly have the post Christmas Blues? Jump start your metabolism with this short yoga sequence.

1. Kapalabhati or Cleansing breath

 breathe

Begin by sitting in a comfortable crossed legged position on a blanket or two so that your spine is upright. Take a few relaxed breaths. Take an inhale then exhale and draw your abdomen in. Concentrate on taking 20 short, forced exhalations as your abdomen continues to draw in and up. With the last inhale pause at the top and hold for as long is as comfortable without strain. Exhale slowly and take several relaxed breaths.

 

In Kapalabhati, each exhale is aiding in the elimination of the metabolic wastes from the lungs. The heat created from the forced abdominal breaths will begin to stoke the digestive fire, Agni, massaging the internal organs and prompting them for elimination.

 

2. Ardha Matsyendrasana or Seated Spinal Twist

 twist

From your crossed legged position, draw your left foot closer to your groin and cross the right leg over placing the foot on the floor. Take an inhale and reach your right arm overhead and place it on the floor behind you. Keeping the spine straight cross your left elbow over the right knee and gently twist to the right on exhale. Inhale, lengthen the spine. Exhale, twist from the belly revolving the torso to the right. Repeat for several breaths. Unwind and repeat on the other side.

 

In twists, always begin with your chest opening to the right and then follow with the left side. This will stimulate the ascending colon then the descending colon, which will move the contents of the intestines in a clockwise fashion to help promote proper elimination.

 

 3. Surya Namaskar A or Sun Salutation A

Sunsalute 

Come to a standing position at the top of your mat with your hands at your heart. Take an inhale and reach your arms overhead as you gaze between the hands. Exhale and hinge from the hips as you forward fold. Inhale and lengthen the spine as you come up half way with your hands on the floor or props. Exhale and step back into plank and slowly lower the body with control to the ground with the elbows drawing into the body and the legs strong. Inhale and open the chest as you straighten the arms and root through your feet for upward facing dog. Exhale as you press your hips up and back for downward facing dog. Take 5 breaths here. Inhale and come high to your toes and exhale step or jump the feet between the hands. Inhale, bring the chest up half way again and exhale forward fold. Inhale with a flat back reach the arms up to the sky and exhale the hands back down to the heart. Repeat for 5 cycles.

 

Sun Salutations are a great way to build the heat in the body and get the cardiovascular system working in the body. Coordinating the breath and the movement will further help to eliminate metabolic wastes from the blood and lungs.

 

 4. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge pose

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Lie down on your back with your arms by your sides. Bend your knees and your place your feet hip width apart and parallel. Press down into the mat through your feet, hands and shoulders as you lift your hips off the floor. Interlace your hands and walk each shoulder blade underneath you so that you’re not resting on your cervical spine.  Lengthen your tailbone to the back of your knees and spin your inner thighs down. Breathe here for 5 breaths then release the hands and slowly lower down.

 

Bridge pose is a great tool for stimulating the thyroid which is responsible for boosting your metabolism. With the backbend you will also tone the kidneys aiding in further elimination of wastes from the body.

 

5. Salamba Sarvangasana or Supported Shoulderstand

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Place 2 blankets with the folded edges on the end of your mat. Fold the end of the blanket on top of the blankets for traction. Lie down with your shoulders on the edge of the blankets and the head on the floor. Hold the edges of the mat with your hands and bend the knees drawing them into your chest rolling your hips off the floor and placing the feet behind you. Place your hands on your lower back and walk the shoulder blades underneath you. Press down firmly into your elbows and lift one leg at a time to the ceiling.  Stay here for several breaths then lower your legs to the floor and slowly roll the spine and hips back down. Inch back off the blankets until your shoulders are off and the arms have a little bend in cactus arms. Take a few breaths here and then remove your props and rest in Savasana.

 

Inversions are a great way to assist in the venous flow from the lower limbs and internal organs to the heart and lungs. Metabolic wastes are removed from the blood via the lymph nodes and the exhalation of the lungs.  Shoulderstand in particular also will continue to stimulate the thyroid for increased metabolism, just as in bridge pose.

How to Find Your Yin During Busy Holiday Months

As I lay in a long yin pose trying to let go and relax, my teacher's words run through my head; do not let the stress of specific become the stress of general. At the time she was talking about the stress on my stretching hamstrings, and how I should not let it influence the rest of my body. But what I took away from that class was much more profound than that.

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If you experience stress,  do not become it

Maybe you recognize being busy, trying to get a hundred things done at the same time, feeling like you are being pulled into several directions. You have your work to think about, family, relationships, health, and now the approaching holiday season with its own demands. It can be enough to derail even the most balanced of yogis.

When we have additional stress in our lives, it is easy to let that stress take over. Instead of us experiencing temporary stress in one part of our lives, we start to believe we are stressed. There is a big difference in experiencing something, and being something. Instead of just observing the stress, much like we observe a stress of a muscle in yoga, we become it completely. It becomes part of our identity. When we internalize stress or busy-ness like this, it easily takes control of everything we do, and it's far more difficult to shake off.

Stress and calm are not enemies

A drop of softness is all it takes to break the power of stress. The balance of yin and yang is not about excluding each other completely. A little bit of stress can be good thing, it keeps us moving and gives us fuel. 

In yoga when we stress one part of the body, when we stretch it and ask temporarily more from it, it is important to allow the rest of the body to remain relaxed. This goes for your life as well. If one part of your life is stretching, focus on keeping the other parts soft. And breathe!

How to bring more yin into your life

That all sounds great, but how can you actually implement these drops of softness into your days? Here are five tips that can help you with your journey to yin!

1. Focus on how you would like to feel. 

Regardless of how you are feeling at the moment, whatever we give our attention to, strengthens. Without giving more power to the feelings of stress or busy-ness, try to imagine the feeling you would like to feel.

Make this feeling your goal, and focus on it daily. Love it as if it was already here. When you go about your daily business, observe if you are moving closer or farther away from this feeling. Identify what activities are moving you closer, and do more of them! This means that you will have less time for activities that are moving you away from your goal, and your mood improves.  

2. Be aware of the stories you tell.

Especially when we are going through times filled with traditions and rituals, we may take on additional stress regarding how things ought to go. Instead of living in the moment, instead of allowing life to unfold naturally, we want to control it to the last little detail.

Listen to the stories you tell yourself about how things should go. Are you following tradition because you want to, or because you never even thought about doing things any other way? 

In the ideal world, if there would be no disapproval and no disappointing looks from anyone, what would you do? How would you spend the holidays? Instead of large family gatherings, would you rather spend some time alone or go on a tropical holiday? What would make you happy? Be mindful of the resistance you may feel bubbling up, and challenge the things that give you grief.

3. Make a distinction between what you HAVE to do versus what do you WANT to do.

We can often confuse these two. Just for fun, make a list of all the things you feel you HAVE TO do. Then write down per item who is demanding you to perform the task? Do you know for sure you have to do it, or have you just convinced yourself of its necessity?

Finally, ask yourself what would happen if you did not do all those things you feel you have to do? Would the world fall apart and spin out of orbit? Or would you just have a bit more free time to, for example, enjoy the presence of your family a bit more?

4. Is it you, or the perception of you?

Sometimes (or rather, often) we do things just to prove something to others. We want to be seen as the kind of person who has it all together, who has time for it all and who can just naturally fall into perfection and whip up creative holiday dishes without even making a mess. It's odd, because honestly, who really likes Ms. Perfection anyway? Wouldn't you rather eat cake with your hands and laugh about the mess in the kitchen? We tend to bond with each other over our delightful imperfections rather than the togetherness we are trying so hard to keep up.

Be mindful of the façade you (may) want to keep up. Don't beat yourself up about it, just observe with loving attention. Who is it for, and why?

5. Breathe. If nothing else works, if you find yourself in a situation that gives you stress, don't sweat it. Breathe it!

Our breath is connected to our nervous system, and the breath goes hand in hand with our body. If you are feeling particularly tensed, stop for a moment and be aware of your breathing. The more nervous and stressed we are, the more shallow the breath. This in turn tells the body that we are in some kind of danger, and the body gets agitated.

Break the circle and focus on lengthening your breath. As you inhale, count slowly to four, and as you exhale, count slowly to four. Close your eyes, if you can, and observe how your body is moving. Keep on breathing, keep on counting. After few minutes you will notice your body (and mind) relaxing.

Remaining soft and open

So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or too busy, take a moment to breathe. Don't let the stress in one part of your life get the best of you, but let it just be a drop in the sea of yin, and keep the rest soft and open.

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Stay in the Groove: 8 Tips to Keep Motivated and Be Healthy

The holiday season tends to be a hectic time for most people as each weekend is full of parties, outings, dinners, and other plans. Usually a lot of traveling, cooking, baking, drinking, eating, and hanging around talking are involved. It’s a really great time of year to connect with friends and family and to express your love for them. Amidst all of the craziness, you might find it hard to express this love for yourself, as there’s just too much to get done, it seems. Similarly, if you live in area that gets very cold during the winter months, it can be tempting to snuggle up with hot chocolate and watch movies all day, versus sticking to your usual routines. Here are some tips to help keep you motivated to stay happy, healthy, and fit during the holiday season and cold, winter months.

1. Set Goals for Yourself

Setting realistic exercise goals can go a long way in keeping you on track. The workout goal may vary from your typical routine, but simply committing to a certain number of minutes a day or week of exercise will help you stay focused. Even 15 minutes of yoga poses in the morning can aid in getting you centered and present, circulating breath and fresh blood throughout your heart, lungs and veins, detoxifying your body, loosening up your muscles, and giving you a boost for the day. Maybe the goal is setting the alarm 15 – 30 minutes early and getting a practice in before the rush of the day starts, especially if you know you won’t have time for a full practice later in the day. Putting it on the calendar is a sure way to keep you honest. [wp_ad_camp_1]

2. Short Practices Throughout the Day

Though it’s not ideal, you can do yoga almost anywhere. Standing in line at the grocery store is a great time to explore some shoulder stretches. There are 1000s of way to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your everyday life: forward folds in the shower, sitting mindfully in a hip opener (sukhasana, for example) and remembering to switch sides every few minutes, circulating energy with a few half or full sun salutations when waiting for food to finish cooking, or wrist, finger, and ankle stretches while watching a movie with the family are all ways to stay present, to keep fresh breath circulating, and to keep the energy flowing through the body while getting to tasks of the day done. Feel free to get creative but always be safe and mindful of what your body is telling you and of how open you are at any given time. Without proper warm-ups, your muscles won’t be as warm and you won’t be able to access poses as deeply as when in a full practice, so be aware of not pushing yourself too far here. The purpose is more of a mindfulness activity to stay aware of the body and stay present in the moment.

 3. Invite Family Members to Practice with You

Chances are you have family members that know nothing about yoga. They may not pursue it on their own but they might be interested in connecting with you in a different way than usual and on having you show them the benefits of yoga. Having a family yoga session can be incredibly fulfilling, as you’re sure to laugh together and share energy in new ways. Make an official or unofficial invitation, depending on the structure of your family, to join together for a group yoga session. You will be sharing a very valuable gift with your loved ones that they could take into their own lives moving forward. If you’re not a yoga teacher, there are many on-line yoga classes that are superb (like www.Udaya.com) that you can use for the class. There are free sites as well. Throw some of your old mats into the car, round up the family, plug the computer into the television and broadcast the session for the whole family to enjoy.

4. Enlist a Workout Buddy

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Having a friend on the journey with you of staying healthy during the cold, holiday months is a great idea because, in addition to keeping one another honest, you will also enrich your relationship. It’s so much more fun to run on the treadmill alongside a friend or to accompany each other to a yoga class followed by a lunch date. You will be more likely to show up to the gym or studio if someone is meeting you there at a set time. Plus, it’s a great way to stay connected to your community, which will keep your mental and emotional health in tiptop shape.

5. Consider Booking a Yoga Retreat

If you live somewhere extremely cold and tend to get depressed from the lack of sunshine and outside time, consider booking a yoga retreat abroad in a tropical climate. You will be amazed at how good you will feel after a week in the sun, full of yoga and fun. You will go home recharged, ready to take on any challenges that come your way, and armed with new skills and techniques to staying healthy.

 6. Control Your Food and Alcohol Intake

This might seem obvious, but it takes a lot of effort for most of us to not binge eat during the holidays. It tends to be societally accepted and perhaps even expected that everyone stuff themselves during the holidays. Our families work hard to prepare lots of good food but the fact is it tends to be on the unhealthy side for most families during this time of year (not in all cases, of course!). Avoiding all the delectable treats of this season can seem like torture, especially if you have cravings for such foods. A great way to help you avoid things you don’t want to eat is by committing to it before you leave the house. As a vegan, it’s easy for me to avoid most unhealthy holiday foods and baked goods as I can’t eat them anyway, but before I was vegan, I had an extremely difficult time saying no to certain sweets, even if I wasn’t hungry. If you’re not vegan, pretend that you are and that you simply cannot eat most of the unhealthy crap, and it gets a lot easier to avoid. Eat a nutritious breakfast, drink a fresh juice or smoothie early in the morning to fill you up, and supplement with nuts and fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day so you’re not starving during the ominous mealtimes. Then look in the mirror and practice telling your mother, “No thanks Mom, none for me this year.”

7. Supplement with Vitamins, if Necessary

Let me preface this by saying loudly: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Not even close, however, as a therapist, I know that lack of sunshine can cause deficiencies in vitamins, namely Vitamin D. These deficiencies not only impact our physical health but can leave us feeling depressed or melancholy as well. If you notice that you’re not getting enough sun and that it’s starting to affect your wellbeing, consider talking to your doctor about supplementing with vitamins during this time, and see what she or he recommends for you. You might even consider having a blood panel drawn up to see exactly what you need.

8. Bring Dishes that are Healthy and Filling

Take matters into your own hands and set examples for your friends and family by recreating traditional recipes in healthy and delicious ways and bringing them to the party. I never feel deprived as a vegan during Thanksgiving or Christmas if I ensure I bring some dishes I love, as literally every recipe can be made vegan (and usually tastes better, in my opinion). You can eat more because it’s not bogged down with filing animal fats and you won’t feel gross afterwards. Your family will try it and surely love it and you might have an impact on moving your whole family in a healthier direction. Just make sure to bring plenty so you’re not upset when they gobble up all your vegan green bean casserole!

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EPIC Yoga Gift Guide - 2014 Edition!

Happy Holidays from Yoga Travel Tree!

Hey yogis, friends of yogis or yogi family members! It's that time of year again, when you begin the frantic search for gifts, stocking stuffers and holiday cheer. To help keep you a little more cheerful, we've put together our EPIC Holiday Gift Guide for Yoga Lovers, 2014 edition!

We're adding to the gift giving sprit of the holidays by getting you some SCREAMIN' DEALS on the sweetest of gifts! Look for the green star, and know that we have exclusive deals on those items!

Deal

The Epic Yoga Lovers Holiday Gift Guide  is organized by the personality of your most-loved yogi, and we've got everyone from those who love the spiritual aspects of practice, to those wanderlusting yogis who can't stay put. We've also got a few gift ideas for men who love yoga (brogis, if you will) because guys are just SO hard to buy for sometimes!

Ahimsa (nonviolence) is huge here at YogaTravelTree, so each of the featured products are cruelty-free, sustainable, and many work hard to give back to the community. As always, we love small businesses and tried our best to go small this year!

We hope you find this guide a helpful, stress-reducing resource for your holiday season! Namaste

-Team YTT

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The Spiritual Yogi

1. Tea Tray Meditation Altar - Create your own meditation station with this collapsible altar. Perfect for small homes or apartments!

2. Crystal Earings from Compassionate Paws Jewelry - Crystals are huge in healing and meditation practices. Coordinate the color of the stone with the chakra you want to focus on and take your OM to the next level. Hand made in St. Louis, MO.

3. Mantra Spots from My Mat Mantra - These sticky dots help keep your yoga practice in focus. Choose a favorite phrase, or write your own, stick it on your mat, and downward dog away!

4. Meditation Music by Avahara- Based out of Santa Barbara, CA, Avahara masterfully creates ambient abstract melodies  specifically designed to deepen your yoga and meditation practices.

5. Hugger Mugger Bolster - Who want's to sit on a hard floor and meditate? Um, no one! It's kind of hard to concentrate on finding your zen with your but bones digging into the ground. Ease that mind, and your tush with a bolster by the ever reliable Hugger Mugger.

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The Newbie Yogi

1. Altar Ego Yoga Leggings - Every yogi, new and experienced, should have a pair of awesome yoga pants. We love Altar Ego for their stunning patterns and flattering fit.

2. TOGI Towel - Start your yoga practice on the right foot. Literally. This yoga towel has all the markings needed to make sure your alignment is perfect from pose to pose, so you learn the right way to move your body and avoid injury.

3. Cotton Yoga Strap by Gaiam -  Straps are great for new yogis who may not be so flexible. Ensure your alignment is correct, and make quicker progress in tough poses by using this cotton strap from Gaiam.

4. Bracelet from Ravishing Jewelry - Show the new yogi in your life that you support their new healthy habit with a bit of bling! Stones and crystals can also help open blocked chakras and put some focus into a new meditation practitioner. Handmade in Hoboken, NJ.

5. Manduka Yoga Block - Keep the spine happy with a block! Pretty much every yogi should have one (or two) of these suckers. If the yogi in your is missing one, fill the void with this sustainable cork version from Manduka.

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Adventure Yogi

1. Maya Yoga Online Membership - Online memberships are fantastic for keeping your yoga practice strong on the move! If you or someone you know travels a lot, a year membership to Maya Yoga's database of online yoga classes is the perfect gift!

2. Wanderlust Bracelet from Blooming Lotus Jewelry - Low-profile and understated jewelry is an amazing way to remind someone you're thinking of them, even when their galavanting around the world! We love the wanderlust bracelet from Blooming Lotus. It'll stay out of the way during down dog, and wont set off metal detectors.

3. Fractal9 Yoga Leggings - Crazy yoga pants make for the best yoga selfies, especially in front of easily recognizable landmarks! Hand crafted in Colorado, Fractal9 features TONS of awesome pattens (so you can make one pair of pants into several outfits while traveling) and they're quick dry, and make your butt look goooood.

4. Yoga Travel Tree Yoga Adventure Retreat - There's no better gift to give than an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. With yoga retreats in Costa Rica, Bali, Thailand and more to come, you can send someone (or both of you for a shared vacation!) on the adventure of a yogic lifetime!  

5. Yogasana Yoga Mat - The best mat for getting out of the studio and on an adventure, the Yogasana yoga mat is great for practicing on grass, sand, rocks, dirt and any other terrain you can think of. It's crazy durable, lifetime guaranteed, and sustainably made in India for a cause.

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1. Yoga Sutra Cards - Printed from the whimsical paintings of Theresa Hutch, these cards are great for the yogi who has it all. Frame and hang them, or send them to loved ones, they're sure to make an impact.

2. 1 Year Membership to Grokker - Yoga fanatics can choose from hundreds of high quality yoga classes from Grokker! Supplement the studio practice with a home-based class, keep up with your practice while on the go, or eliminate the need for a pricy studio membership all together with this gift.

3. Yoga Travel Tree Teacher Training - Know someone who always talks about becoming a yoga teacher? The time is now! Give the gift of a fabulous career and send the yogi you love on an immersive yoga teacher training experience in Mexico.

4. Clothing from Vegan Yogi Unicorn - Shop for a cause, and have a laugh while you're at it!Supporting the fight against factory farming and often featuring hilarious quips about kale and hippies, Vegan Yogi Unicorn apparel is perfect for the yogi with a sense of humor and heart of gold.

5. BuddhiBox Gift Membership - Give the gift that keeps on giving! Purchase a membership to BuddhiBox, and for a specific number of months have a box of yoga goodness delivered straight to the yogi of your choice.

6. Mandala Yoga Mat - Ok, so by this point in their yoga life they may already have a few spare yoga mats, but this one is the KING of mats, and needs to be owned. The Mandala Yoga Mat is circular in shape, which means that no matter what pose you're in, you'll stay on your mat! No more foot slippage in wild thing, you're supported and safe throughout your entire practice. They also prevent the "butt in the face" effect in wide leg forward bend.

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theBrogi

1. Vuori Clothing (Coming soon!!) - We're waiting with baited breath for this mens yoga clothing company to launch med-December, so keep your eyes peeled!

2. Skidless Yoga Towel From Yogitoes - It's commonly believed that people sweat. Keep dry with the Skidless Yoga Towel from Yogitoes, and say goodbye to slippage! They come in all kinds of manly colors too, so you can stop using that old beach towel now.

3. Parallette Bars - Help the yoga dude in your life get a little stronger, and feel a little more badass with a set of Paralette Bars. They'll suspend you several inches off the ground, perfect for practicing arm balances, and serve as a base for tricep dips, l-sits, deficit pushups and more.

4. Brogamats Manly Mat Bag -  These mat bags are awesome. There's one that looks like a burrito, a ninja sword, the lumberjack bag pictured above and tons more. Choose the style thats right for the brogi in your life and he's sure to love it.

5. Yoga Joes Action Figures - Funded by Kickstarter, Yoga Joes aren't your typical plastic toy soldiers. They're posed in your favorite asanas, and they're promoting a nonviolent outlook on life for children young and old. These guys would make AMAZING stocking stuffers. Just sayin'.

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We hope our yoga gift guide helps you find the perfect gift for the yogi in your life! Happy Holiday shopping!!

P.S. Need more ideas? Check out the 2013 Yoga Gift Guide here!

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Lost Your Mojo? 4 Tips to Jumpstart New Year's Resolutions

I’m staring my New Year’s Resolution Tomorrow!

It seems like time is already flying by in 2014! Time to check in on those New Year’s resolutions you’ve made for this year. My resolution was to not go Whole Foods unless I was dying of hunger. Well, that failed. What constitutes my dying of hunger? Clearly I’m lucky enough not to be in a situation where I am not literally dying of starvation like so many unfortunate people in the world. Admittedly, I have since been to my beloved Hot Bar many times since the beginning of the year. Have you been slipping as well with your resolutions?

Let’s visit what causes some pitfalls in resolutions, and get back on track!

1) Non-specific: The biggest pitfall in making resolutions is that they are not specific enough. We want to lose weight or be more organized. That is fantastic, but how can you know when you have achieved your goals? A great way to re-organize your goals is to be

SMART:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

 

Let's use losing weight as an example for your SMART goals:

  • Specific- Lose 5 pounds by August when you go on vacation.
  • Measurable- Weigh yourself once a month.
  • Assignable- Have a friend to get on an exercise routine and once a day green smoothie kick with you. Cut out some sweets and be accountable. Decide how you will accomplish your goal.
  • Realistic- this is definitely a realistic goal. If you wanted to lose 5 pounds a month, maybe not as much.
  • Time-related- you have set the goal for your vacation so you have a deadline.

2) Not realistic: Having big goals and dreams are wonderful and motivating but when you set high expectations all the time it is inevitable that sometimes you will fall short. Sometimes you have to take it day by day. Direct your attention towards many small accomplishments so just in case goals don’t work out this time, you’ll still feel like you have set yourself up for a lot of success. For example, if your goal is to live completely sustainably, make small changes by supporting local farms and reducing waste every week. If the goal is to someday have your own garden and rely on your own resources, make that something that you work up toward gradually, one step at a time.

3) Outside influence: Sometimes it is not just ourselves that can cause derailment of New Years resolutions. The influence of other people’s habits can cause a wayward journey. Say for example your resolution is to save money by cooking at home and not going out to dinner. However, you have friends who want to go out to eat constantly, perhaps your pitfall is you give in to eating out in order to be social and spend time with the people you care about. If that's the case, you could organize a potluck or order an appetizer instead of a whole meal. Surround yourself with support! People who care for your well being are a great way to keep yourself accountable and on track for your goals during the year.

4) Giving up too soon: It’s true that we are our own worst enemies. At the first notion of disappointment or failure we throw our resolutions out the window and wait until next year. Try writing down your goals on sticky notes and put them where you can see them. Try to journal as often as you can to record your progress and work out your challenges. There is no failure; there are only opportunities to begin again. I went to the Whole Foods hot bar last night, but I will do my best to space out my visits for a little bit longer.

Let's begin again...

If you have found that you’re already waiting until 2015 to start over, know that you can begin again. January 1st is just a day, and tomorrow is another one. Recommit yourself. Write down or journal your resolution so it is solidified in your mind or in front of you wherever you go. Make it SMART and realistic. Surround yourself with positive people who understand your goals and can help keep yourself accountable. Know that you might backslide but there is no such thing as failure! Best of luck in 2014, eleven months is plenty of time…take the night off and start tomorrow!

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Sarah Kashdan – A Boston native, Sarah moved to Colorado in 2009 and yoga and teaching became her life passion.  She found that a regular yoga practice allowed her to heal both physically and emotionally and now she is the happiest place of her life. Sarah has a master’s degree in toxicology and is also a Reiki practitioner.  This combined interest in science and healing drives Sarah’s teaching to connect the mind, body, and spirit.  She loves to see people find, cultivate, and shine their inner light. Currently she teaches studio classes at Corepower Yoga, Fort Collins, Mindstream Yoga, Fort Collins, and Old Town Yoga Fort Collins. Find Sarah on Facebook.

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New Year, New Opportunities

 

How To Write a New Year's Resolution You Can Keep

The new year can be an exciting time for everyone. Whether you make resolutions or not, the new year is a new beginning and a great opportunity for self-improvement. It’s the start of a whole new chapter in life and a solid chance to start fresh and set goals alongside others.

Setting a new year’s resolution can be an intimidating prospect for some, while others love it and over-enthusicly set too many to keep track of (I always set at least one and forget what it was by March). If you’re planning on setting some goals, how do you make resolutions that you can keep?

 

Keep it Simple

The stereotypical New Year’s resolution goes something like this: "lose weight", "be less stressed", "be happier", on and on with grandiose ideas and expected outcomes. While the basic ideas behind these goals are great, they're far too broad to really have an impact on your immediate life and can easily be shunned as “too hard”. Sure "lose weight" is a fantastic thing to shoot for in 2014, but a better resolution is an action step rather than a result. Instead of choosing "lose weight" or "be happier", write things down that are much more specific and much more achievable, like "exercise two more days each week" and "write down one thing each day I'm grateful for." These smaller goals will get you closer to actually accomplishing the broader big picture goals, and will most likely get you closer to the year end result you’re looking for.

 

Realism is better than Idealism

Making realistic and attainable goals is probably the most important aspect of setting a resolution for 2014. Sure, earning a million bucks next year would be great, but is it realistic for you? If it is, fantastic! Get after it! For most of us, a more attainable goal would be to increase your yearly income by 10%. How will you make it happen? "Work x hours of overtime each month" or "get a second part time job" is a much more attainable target. Break down your big picture goal and make sure the goals you're setting aren't setting you up for failure. If you see the progress toward your goal, you should actually succeed!

 

Reward Your Hard Work

Remember when you were in grade school and you spent hours on a paper to get an A and a gold star? Resolutions should feel the same way. How do you make a year-long goal seem more rewarding? Set short-term benchmarks! Going back to our "lose weight" example, let's set the first benchmark goal as "working out two more days each week" and set your personal deadline for March. If by March you haven't missed a week of 2 extra workout days, give yourself a gold star! (or a latte, or a trip to the bookstore, massage, whatever floats your boat)

Setting benchmarks also give you a great place to re-assess and up the ante if needed. Does the extra two days of working out feel good? Great! Now keep that going, add "eat a half a cup of veggies with each meal" to your plan, and set your next benchmark deadline for June!

By setting small, attainable, rewardable goals you set yourself up for an awesome year of success.

 

Write it Down

Statistically, people are more likely to stick to their goals if they're on paper. On paper. Writing them in the notes program on your computer or phone doesn’t count. Write your resolutions on a sheet of notebook paper, a sticky note stuck in plain sight, or (even better) on your actual calendar, and you'll be much more aware of them in your day to day activities. Think of it as writing yourself a personal contract. You can even list each one of your resolutions, their benchmarks and dates you will aim to achieve them and reassess. At the bottom of your goals sheet, write “I will do my best to accomplish all of the above by December 31, 2014” and sign it! It will feel good to put it down on paper, and make a commitment to yourself to improve what you think needs improving.

 

Resolutions Are Not Only for the New Year

One thing westerners are great at is treating the new year as a period of new beginnings. One thing we're terrible at is seeing that potential in every month, week and day. If setting a year-long goal is waaay too intimidating, set one for 6 months, a new goal each month, each week or even every day. Just because you have to write a new year on your checks this month doesn't make next month any less special. Every day can be oriented in the direction of personal growth if you work for it.

 

A Step by Step Guide to Writing and Achieving Your New Year’s Resolution

 

  1. Choose a result. Where do you want to be with your life in 2015? New job? Lighter? Less stressed? This step can be big picture thinking, we'll get deeper in a second.
  2. Find the action steps. Break down your result into attainable, measurable, realistic benchmarks that you can reassess every few months. Keep these simple and direct! If your action steps still seem too broad, create sub-steps to reach for every couple weeks, but don't overwhelm yourself. Remember, they should be totally do-able!
  3. Set your rewards. Try matching your rewards with the effort you need to put in to reach your goals. The harder the goal, the better the reward. Keep things interesting and motivating, but be sure not to give yourself any rewards that might set you back in your progress toward your goal result.
  4. Write everything down on paper. Chronicle your starting point. If you've made benchmarks, write them in your calendar. Keep track, assess your progress, reward yourself and set a new benchmark. If you haven't reached your benchmark, no reward, and hold off on adding more to your plate. It really is that simple.
  5.  Reap the Benefits! Folks who actually set New Year’s resolutions are more productive, more personally driven, have a better sense of purpose and are happier than their less ambitious counterparts. Don't miss out on all the good you could achieve. Take a couple minutes to follow these steps and give yourself a great purpose during 2014!

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Sarah Monk is a die-hard Coloradan, running addict and yoga instructor. Her passion is empowering young women through fitness, and she does this by coaching several high school girls sports teams. She lives in Fort Collins with her yummy boyfriend and their two hairy kids, Nikki and Gala. Currently Sarah is helping to grow the YogaTravelTree.com community as Outreach Coordinator. Follow Sarah on Twitter and on Instagram.

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